Online Degrees for Financial Advisors

Learn about bachelor's degree programs that can help prepare you for a financial advisor job, and explore online learning options for this field. Get info about prerequisites, coursework, licensure, certification and advancement opportunities. Review the job outlook and salary potential for financial advisors. Schools offering Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Degree Do I Need to Be a Financial Advisor?

There are several bachelor's degree programs that can prepare you to work as a financial advisor, including business, accounting, mathematics and economics. However, finance may be the most popular major for this career. You can also find degrees specifically in personal finance, and general finance degree programs often offer personal finance as a specialization.

As a student, you'll learn how to evaluate the financial needs of clients and develop both short- and long-term financial plans. This might include retirement planning, investing, budgeting, planning education expenses or dealing with sudden medical expenses. Some programs may allow you to specialize in a particular area of personal finance, like risk management, insurance or investing. Because many financial advisors must find their own clients, you may also learn business, sales, prospecting and entrepreneurial skills.

Degree AreasFinance, business, accounting, mathematics, economics
Online AvailabilityFully online programs are available
Admissions RequirementsHigh school diploma or equivalent, standardized test scores, letters of recommendation, personal essay, resume
Common CoursesTaxes, risk management, tax law, macroeconomics, microeconomics
Continuing EducationGraduate programs in related fields are available and may be preferred by many companies
LicensureMay be required, depending on your specialization and the products you sell
CertificationOffered by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc.
Median Salary (2016)$55,826 for financial advisors*

Source: *Payscale.com

Can I Earn This Degree Online?

Yes, you can earn all of the above mentioned degrees online. If you enroll in a finance degree program or take personal finance as an emphasis, you may be required to purchase popular accounting, finance, investment or budgeting software. Requirements for online programs in finance are generally the same as that of on-campus programs; expect to complete your degree in 3-4 years and turn in a combination of papers, tests and projects.

What are the Educational Prerequisites?

You need at least a high school diploma to be considered for admission to finance and business-related bachelor's degree programs. Also, expect to submit standardized test scores, letters of recommendation, a personal essay and, in some cases, a resume. The strongest applicants will have aptitudes in math and business.

What Courses Will I Take?

Whatever degree you choose, those preparing for work in this field will take many of the same classes. Coursework is largely didactic and focuses on personal finance theory and practical application. The following are classes you may find in the curriculum:

  • Taxes
  • Estate planning
  • Risk management
  • Income and expense management
  • Short-term planning
  • Tax law
  • Macroeconomics
  • Microeconomics

Can I Continue My Education?

Many large firms prefer job candidates with graduate degrees in a related field, like finance, business administration or economics. In a competitive job market, a graduate degree may increase your chances of finding a job or receiving a promotion.

Do I Need a License?

You might, depending on your specialization and which products you sell. Many states require licenses for those who buy or sell stocks and bonds, offer advice on specific types of investments or sell insurance. If you work for a firm, you may also have to be registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

What About Certification?

The Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation is a professional certification that indicates that you have met the industry's standards in important financial planning topics that include investment, retirement and estate planning. Certification is offered by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. or through various educational programs (www.cfp.net). Certification requirements include a bachelor's degree or higher from an accredited college or university.

Will I Be Able to Get a Job? How Much Will I Get Paid?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted that the employment rate for personal financial advisors would grow by 30% between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov), significantly faster than average. Growth would be largely due to an aging population who would seek financial assistance as they approach retirement age. As of January 2016, financial advisors made a median annual salary of $55,826 according to Payscale.com.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

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